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Get Looped!
ADR in Vegas

 by Douglas Spotted Eagle

Independent filmmakers all know the value and import of looping, or "Automated Dialog Replacement." ADR has long been a Hollywood practice, although some films are now using more wild audio than ever before. Essentially, this practice is a matter of bringing talent into a studio and having them re-record dialog from the set where they may have been filmed/taped earlier. This accomplished several goals.

  • It allows for clean recording without room noise or noise from surrounding equipment ADR allows for a more emotional take in many instances, as the actor/actress may have been physically exhausted, not responding verbally well with other elements of the show, or may have not had the right inflection Allows for wild audio to be less of a concern, making sure dialog tracks are clean and articulate. Offers total control and multiple takes for "comping" to the director. (Comping is taking several takes, extracting various words from each take to create one complete line. Imagine building a complete sentence from fragments of other sentences. This is comping, and allows for the best performance possible in many instances)
  • Many actors enjoy the opportunity to re-record lines, as it allows them to inject more passion into their vocal performance, particularly when they can see the film in rough context. (It has been suggested that Marlon Brando deliberately mumbled his lines on set so that he could see a complete scene in context prior to recording his final lines.)

Looping has never been easier than it is in Sony Vegas 6 software. Vegas 6 is likely one of the easiest tools available for looping. Providing the talent with an in-sync external monitor, the director or engineer/editor can play the same scene over and over while the talent records their lines as they look at themselves. Vegas allows for the scene to be placed in a "loop" mode, so that it simply repeats the selection as many times as the engineer/editor/director requires.

To set Vegas up for looping, you'll need at least one external monitor. External monitor can be a standard television monitor, a flat screen, a second computer monitor, or a bank of monitors fed from a distribution system. In the Vegas Preferences, find options for SDI output, 1394 output for SD/DV previews, and a Secondary Monitor preview. The Secondary monitor preview uses a two-head monitor card, so you'll need to have a dual monitor setup with a dual head video card, or a pair of video cards installed. Having two monitors with a loop from one to the other is very helpful as it provides both talent and director/engineer the ability to watch the screen during the ADR sessions.

The 1394 output is for outputting video via Firewire/iLink to a converter device such as the Convergent Designs SD Connect, a Canopus converter, an ADS AV Link, or other similar devices.

If you have a Decklink card, this will function as an SDI output.

Set up the external monitor of choice, generally offering the external monitor in the same room as the talent is re-recording their dialog. This allows them to see their lip movements and time their re-recording to match. If the talent can't see their image during re-recording, it makes the process much slower, especially if the wild audio isn't very well recorded and intelligible. The director/editor can either watch the same scene on a second external monitor, as the Vegas Preview window will not display video when external modes are enabled.

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